As some of you may know, I am working on a commission for The Museum of Oxford’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations. The project is called The Fabric of Oxford and it celebrates the history of the city of Oxford through stories and sounds relating to its textiles.
Like many of my projects – and my podcasts – The Fabric of Oxford celebrates the links between sounds, textiles and a sense of place.
Some of the stories collected so far include memories of Textra – a textile-design company that produces fabric for many of the city’s hotels and hospitals; discussions of outfits worn by the Ashnah Bellydancers and the Oxford Roller Derby; interviews from members of the Oxford Barn Weavers; a description of Subfusc (the academic uniform worn by students attending the University of Oxford) and recollections of Miss Doering who roamed Portmeadow tending to the horses in a most memorable outfit.
But there are yet more stories – more yarns – to be gathered, and that’s where you come in.
The Museum of Oxford and Darn It And Stitch are kindly supporting two public KNITSONIK collection events scheduled for Saturday 29th August and Thursday 3rd September. On these days I want to record your Oxford-based textile stories… your accounts of clothes you have made or worn in the city; your memories of special shopping experiences buying significant outfits; your amazing charity-shop discoveries; outfits which are in some way important to you. I’m also interested in stories about:
Witney Blanket production in Oxford
Crafts and dressmaking in Oxford
Festive outfits and party clothes
Academic garb – Subfusc, outfits worn to balls and parties etc.
Clothes worn for the purposes of cycling in Oxford
Your favourite High Street experiences, purchases and memories
Amazing charity-shop finds
Memories of Annabelinda’s shop on Gloucester Green
Garments worn for special occasions
Your textile stories are amazing
In the course of this project a few very modest souls have said “I’d love to speak to you but I have nothing interesting to say”. Folk who preface their words in this way invariably go on to say something fascinating and I have honestly not yet heard a boring story in my quest to explore Oxford’s history through its textiles.
No story is too mundane or trivial for this is a project precisely about the little things and how individual decisions and actions collectively shape a city and contribute to its atmosphere. History projects can sometimes be quite generalised and epic in their scope, but The Fabric of Oxford celebrates a regional history that is both specific and quotidian. In forgotten hat boxes, old dancing shoes, hand-knitted acrylic jumpers for school, treasured ensembles worn for best, how sewing used to be taught, first sewing projects, spare buttons kept in a tin…
The Fabric of Oxford is made of many slender threads.
So do come along and add a few of your own! You are warmly invited to a yarn-gathering event to tell your story and to make a special fabric badge as a memento of your contribution.
FORTHCOMING YARN-GATHERING EVENTS
THE MUSEUM OF OXFORD
St. Aldates, OX1 1BX
Sat 29th August 2015. 11am – 4pm
DARN IT AND STITCH
Blue Boar St., 6 St. Aldates, OX1 1DL
Thu 3rd September 2015. 11am – 5pm
I really hope to see you there, please feel free to share these images and this invitation widely across your networks and please use #fabricofoxford if discussing on Twitter or instagram!
YOURS IN STORIES,